Follow along with us as we break down our IGTV beginner’s guide. 

Have you noticed a new feature in your Instagram feeds? IGTV was introduced in 2018 but it didn’t initially take off. View counts were low and Instagram creators were hesitant to start creating separate vertical videos just for this platform.

Instagram quickly rolled out updates. Earlier this year, people were able to add horizontal videos and you could post a preview of your IGTV video directly on your feed. 

Now, it seems like IGTV is much more active, but is it right for your business? We’re going to walk you through what you need to know about how to use IGTV and help you understand more about whether using IGTV is right for your business. 

Facebook vs. Google

First, we want to provide a bit of background. One of Facebook’s biggest competitors is YouTube. We know that some of you may have read that sentence and thought, “Wait, why are you talking about Facebook and YouTube? I thought this was about IGTV.”

IGTV is Facebook’s answer to this ongoing competition. If you didn’t know, Facebook owns Instagram. Facebook has been trying to take over the online video game for a long time. Have you ever noticed that if you share a YouTube video to Facebook it only shows a static image of the video? That’s because Facebook wants to encourage users to upload videos directly onto their platform instead of on YouTube.  

There was even a period where that static image on YouTube videos shared on Facebook was tiny, meaning it was less visually engaging. This is all just Facebook doing what they can to make content creators upload directly to their site instead of YouTube. 

With the introduction of IGTV, Facebook is taking another step forward in its competition with YouTube. Videos on Instagram have been popular for a while but there has been a 15-second time limit. IGTV now allows for 10-minute videos! 

There are also some accounts that can do 60-minute videos but Instagram restricts this to large or verified accounts. Note: Instagram doesn’t give us a definition of what a “large” account is but they have a similar restriction with swipe-up links on stories which are only available to those with 10,000 followers or more. 

Now that you know a bit of the background, we’re going to breakdown everything you need to know. First, we’ll walk you through the screenshots of IGTV. Then, we’ll give you the tips that you might not know about yet. Finally, we’ll help you figure out if IGTV is right for you and your business. 

Where to find everything

If you don’t already know, there is a separate IGTV app. Initially, this was one of the reasons that IGTV didn’t take off. Everything had to be done in the separate app and people didn’t trust the new app enough to make the effort. 

Now, the separate IGTV app doesn’t seem to be all that useful. Everything you can do in IGTV can also be done in the Instagram app. Keep in mind, we are writing this in August 2019. This could all change and honestly, it’s likely to. Instagram caved and brought all the IGTV functionality into the Instagram app in order to increase engagement. But now that people are using IGTV regularly, Instagram will probably focus on getting people over to the IGTV app again. 

It’s hard to say how they will do this but it may be something along the lines of special features or video editing options that are only available in the IGTV app. For now, we don’t think you need to worry about downloading another app. Just stick with the Instagram app and keep your phone screen cleaner.

Instagram top bar

IGTV feed

Once you’re into the Instagram app, you’ll want to click the TV icon at the top. This will take you into the IGTV feed. 

When you’re in the feed, you’ll see a variety of different videos. Some will be uploaded by pages you follow but most will be recommended videos based on what you like.

The “For You” section is helpful for any business owner who is looking to reach more people without spending money on an ad campaign. It’s ultimately up to Instagram to decide if they want to show your IGTV video to your ideal audience. But you can help that process by including important keywords in your description.

Uploading a video

When you’re in the IGTV feed, you can click the plus sign in the top right corner to start the process of uploading a video. You’ll pick the video from your camera roll and then be prompted to pick a cover photo for the video. This photo can be a scene from the video itself or a separate image that you’d like to upload. 

IGTV video upload screenTry to make it engaging but also make sure that it tells viewers what to expect from your video. For the people who are just scrolling through IGTV or the Instagram Discovery section, they will decide if they want to click on your video based on that cover photo. 

Once you’ve selected your cover photo, you’ll be prompted to give your video a title and a description. Be sure to check out the tips below to understand more about how to optimize both and all the special features that these can include. 

There will also be an option to post a preview on your Instagram account. We would recommend always using that preview option. It puts a snippet of your video in the normal Instagram feed and prompts people to click on to the full video. 

You can also decide to share your video directly on Facebook from IGTV. This will be up to you and your marketing plan but most likely you will want to share the video on Facebook as well. 

Finding the videos after your upload them

The hills instagram

So where do the videos end up once you upload them? The MTV show The Hills uses IGTV fairly regularly so we are using their page as an example. You can see on their Instagram page that there’s an IGTV option below the bio. This will appear once you upload your first IGTV video and will be a place that you can view all your IGTV videos at once. 

You can also see on their feed that the middle post in the second row has the IGTV icon in the top right corner. This means that it’s an IGTV preview that will prompt you to view the full video. The comments on the preview and the comments on the full video will still match so you can think of both as the same. Notice that the other posts on this page are also videos but they are not IGTV videos which just means that they are shorter and kept directly in the Instagram feed instead of in the separate IGTV feed. 

Tips for using IGTV

Now that you understand a bit more about where to upload your videos, we’re going to give you a few key tips to keep in mind. 

Your videos must be pre-recorded

Don’t expect to just turn on your camera and start recording within the IGTV app. You have to record the video first and then upload it into IGTV.

You can upload videos on desktop or mobile

While our screenshots above were walking you through the desktop version of IGTV, Instagram also lets you upload your videos from your computer. This is a departure from many of Instagram features but makes sense for a platform that is encouraging long-form videos. 

Just go to Instagram.com, visit your profile, and click on the IGTV option below your bio. 

Titles get cut off after 20-25 characters

That’s characters, not words. You can go past that character limit but most people won’t see the full title when they scroll through their feed so try to make it shorter. 

Titles and descriptions can’t be edited after the fact on mobile

If you struggle with typos on mobile, you might want to stick with uploading your videos on desktop. When you upload on IGTV mobile, you won’t be able to edit the title or the description after it’s posted. 

You can put links in the video descriptions

Links are notoriously difficult on Instagram. People use the “link in bio,” linktree, or a variety of other options to try and get around Instagram’s limitation on links. However, IGTV makes it simple. Put a link in the description and it will become clickable when you post it. Note: If the link is really long, we recommend using a link shortener like bit.ly. 

Keep using hashtags

You can and should use hashtags in the description of your IGTV videos. It will help others find your video if you use the appropriate hashtags. 

Should you use IGTV for your business?

Now that you know how to use IGTV, you might already have an idea of how you can use it for your own business. If you still aren’t sure, here are a few questions you can ask yourself. 

  • Do you currently or want to use videos longer than 15 seconds to promote your business?
  • Is your social media starting to plateau? 
  • Are you looking for a new way to engage with your audience?
  • Do you do a lot of Instagram live videos?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these, you probably would benefit from an IGTV marketing plan. 

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